In from the cold, and now on Pennsylvania Avenue just a block from the White House!
The National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella group that includes an armed wing (Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK), opened its new Washington office Thursday.
A fierce foe of the Tehran government, the group — which the regime brands a violent cult — had been on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations since 1997. The NCRI hasn’t been able to operate in this country since 2003.
There had been 3,000-plus MEK members in Camp Ashraf in Iraq near the Iranian border. The MEK turned over its weapons to the Army — and has rejected violence, an NCRI official told us. But pressure from Iran led the Iraqis to close the camp recently and move the MEK closer to the capital — where they get hammered regularly by mortar fire. (The group’s leadership is based in Paris.)
A lengthy lobbying and legal campaign — backed by folks such as former U.N. ambassador John Bolton; Rep. Dana Rohrabacher; former presidential candidates Newt Gingrich (R), Rudy Giuliani (R) and Howard Dean (D); and former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell — eventually forced the State Department to remove the organization from the terrorist sponsor list.
NCRI officials noted that Bolton, former Obama national security adviser Jim Jones, former congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and other backers attended the opening of the office of what’s now styled as “Iran’s parliament-in-exile.”
By AL Kamen, (In the loop)